Uniting for cancer research: Inspiring moments from the Défi Canderel 2023 Run

On May 4th, 2023, the GCI joined Défi Canderel in its 34th annual cancer research fundraising run. Thank you to all who joined, ran, walked, and volunteered on this amazing day!

The story of Défi Canderel

Over three decades ago, cancer deeply touched Jonathan Wener’s family. This painful personal experience compelled them to get involved and make a difference by raising funds for cancer research. Jonathan Wener challenged the business community to get involved in a year-round fundraising campaign culminating in a celebratory run through the streets of Montreal. The Défi Canderel Challenge was born.

Over the past 34 years, the Défi Canderel grew by leaps and bounds. Raising larger and larger amounts every year, this philanthropic endeavour has become a not-to-be-missed annual charity event. 

Since its inception, the Défi Canderel has donated over $24 million with no strings attached to its two beneficiaries: the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Institute (GCI) at McGill University and the Institut du cancer de Montréal (ICM) affiliated to the Université de Montréal. This has strengthened the ties and fostered collaboration between scientific institutions; it has further encouraged the deployment of innovative country-wide projects with other Canadian cancer research centres.

Adapted from Défi Canderel: Our Story

The partnership between Défi Canderel and the GCI

Over the years, the partnership with the Défi Canderel and the continuous and unwavering support of this important initiative by Jonathan Wener has become a cornerstone of the GCI's strategy to pursue excellence in cancer research.

Left to right: Jonathan Wener (Founder of Défi Canderel), Morag Park (Director of the GCI) and Réjean Lapointe (Scientific director of the ICM)

Funds raised by the Défi Canderel have contributed directly towards:

  • High-risk-high-payoff research projects, where preliminary data is generated and subsequently used to secure competitive grants.
  • Recruitment of new faculty members with dynamic and cutting-edge research programs.
  • Trainees’ stipends that ensure their time can be entirely dedicated to research.
  • Supporting trainees’ travel to national and international conferences to present their research findings.

Adapted from Défi Canderel: Our Beneficiaries

Numbers from this year's fundraiser

Over $5000 raised by the GCI so far 60+ runners participating from the GCI 90+ donors have given to the GCI Défi Canderel team so far

GCI Director Morag Park takes to the stage
Our Director in the media

Hear from the GCI's Director Prof. Morag Park who joined Global New’s Laura Casella on the morning of the event to share the latest update on how this funding helps patients across the province.

Messages from participants

GCI trainees Marina Fukano and Romane Monnet

"We are proud of our community for showing support to each other and for their committed work to advance cancer research." - GCI trainee Chuhan Feng, co-captain of the GCI fundraising team

"I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of this meaningful initiative with a fantastic team!" - GCI trainee Marina Fukano, volunteer and runner at the event

"Being all together so involved for this cause is amazing!" - GCI trainee Capucine Magaut, co-captain of the GCI fundraising team

"It was so nice to be surrounded by so many researchers and community members working toward the same goal!" - Students from Morag Park's lab, runners at the event

"I enjoyed seeing the community come together with the common goal of raising funds for cancer research. Every year we get closer to truly running cancer out of town, one step at a time." - GCI trainee Andy Garnier, volunteer and runner at the event

GCI trainee Matthew Dankner receives the Marilyn Wener Excellence Award
"I’ve been at the student at the GCI for almost 10 years now, and the Défi Canderel is an event I look forward to each and every year. Not only is it so much fun to run alongside my colleagues, but the funding we get through the Défi is truly the lifeblood of the centre through the studentships and travel awards it provides. It is such a tremendous honour to be the recipient of the Marilyn Wener Excellence Award, and I hope to continue to contribute in meaningful ways to the GCI ecosystem in the years to come." - Matthew Dankner, runner at the event and recipient of the Marilyn Wener Excellence Award


A huge thank you to:

  • Co-captains of the GCI's Défi Canderel Team: Capucine Magaut and Chuhan Feng from the Goodman Cancer Student Society

GCI co-captains Capucine Magaut and Chuhan Feng

  • Défi Canderel organizers: Chantal Vadnais, Jonathan and Susan Wener, and others
  • GCI Research support office: Trina Johnson, Daniel Caron, Kristen Stecher, Louis Blais, Diana Lee, Luisa Izzi, Andrew Semotiuk, Yu Gu, Romane Monnet

  • GCI event volunteers: Kailyn Wanhella, Marine Lingrand, Rachel Kim, Romane Monnet, Tiffany Lin, Mara Whitford, Anne Blouin, Ozgun Varol, Yilin Wang, Pushkarni Suresh, Ella Morales, Hailey Dall-Proud, Andy Garnier, Jialin Jiang, Yu Gu, Olivia Zhu, Isabella Pecora, Alexandre Poirier, Faiz Hussain, Dana Segal, Shuai Shi, Marina Fukano, Caitlyn Mourcos, Tarek Taifour, Sandrine Busque
  • GCI participating runners: too many to name!
  • Prize sponsors and donors: LaCite, Trek bicycles, and others
  • Presenting sponsor for the event: the Goodman family and their foundation
  • GCI ambassadors, who participated as a fundraising team
  • Sponsors and runners from participating teams

More photos of the event

Students from the lab of Prof. Ian Watson:

Students from the labs of Profs. Daniela Quail and Logan Walsh:

Students from the lab of Prof. Jose Teodoro:

Students from the lab of Prof. Peter Siegel:

Students from the labs of Profs. Sidong Huang and Josée Dostie:

Students from the lab of Prof. Guojun Chen:

Professors from the GCI - Profs. Thomas Duchaine, Michel Tremblay, Yojiro Yamanaka, Sidong Huang and Guojun Chen:

With GCI Deputy Director Trina Johnson, PhD:

GCI trainees running with the GCI banner:

GCI trainees:

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